At the end of last year, my flatmates bought a little rabbit. They had specifically looked for a Netherlands Dwarf, finally the local pet shop got one in and they promptly bought him.
They started out taking him into their room a lot for play time. This didn’t last long, I think they just wanted to cuddle him, and he just wanted to zoom about and see what was fun to chew. He was getting left in his cage a lot, so I asked if I could spend time with him. I started making it a habit to let him out for a supervised playtime every day (supervised because he does like to destroy carpet). Long story short, now he’s my rabbit.
I got him an outdoor hutch, and he really enjoys the grass. I got an enclosure fence, and he gets to spend supervised time in a larger outside area when the weather is good. But I have limited time in a day, and an hour or two playtime still means 22-23 hours by himself. He’s an extremely hyperactive little fellow, it just seemed mean.
So we went to the SPCA and adopted him a friend, Poppy. I highly recommend adopting rabbits from shelters.
Mister Bun-bun from a pet shop—was separated from his Mother too young, he didn’t learn rabbit social skills and was not vaccinated or fixed. It’s recommended to get rabbits fixed, even if they’re single rabbits, it basically makes them happier and healthier. So, hundreds of dollars to get those things done to improve his quality of life and let him enjoy the outdoors safely.
Poppy from the SPCA—she came fixed, vaccinated and microchipped for cheaper than a pet shop charges for a baby rabbit with none of this. You get a much better environment to get to know the rabbits and see their personalities. At the SPCA there were around 20 rabbits to choose from—it turns out a lot of rabbit owners decide they don’t want to be rabbit owners any more.
Bonding rabbits—this takes a while. Especially when one of your rabbits hasn’t learned bunny social skills. We borrowed a friend’s cage and set them up next to each other. After a while of that, we started introducing them face to face. We started with the area too large at first—Bun-bun would irritate Poppy, she’d run away, he’d chase and nip, fur would fly. In the end we used 3 panels from our Kmart 8 panel pet enclosure, made a little triangle, and they’d get to know each other in a space where chasing wasn’t possible. This went much better. Still, we had to take it slowly and it was just over a month before they were able to share a cage with each other.
It was Autumn when we got Poppy, so they’re spending their nights in the indoor cage where it’s warmer and going into the outside hutch during the day.
I found a good use for the one-rabbit-sized Fiddlesticks tunnel. Put hooks in the end and it’s apparently a very attractive (and edible) hammock.
I was a bit disappointed at Poppy’s toilet habits when she arrived.
Mister Bun-bun had always been very good. It only took a couple of days of scooping his poops into the dirt box, and then that was the designated toilet. Poppy was far less discerning. The Buns have some nice fleece blankets as bedding. I’ve read you shouldn’t give them blankets, but they have never tried to chew them, they enjoy digging them into a nice position, so they got to keep their blankets. Poppy would go to the toilet in the blankets. *sigh*
I repeatedly heard this weird piece of advice about putting their hay hopper above their dirt box, because rabbits like to eat and poop at the same time. I tried this, Mister Bun-Bun would pull all the hay out of the hopper onto the top of the dirt box. I moved the hay hopper. He’d pull it out onto the cage floor. Poppy would toilet all over the cage regardless of where they hay was.
I decided to buy a second litter tray. I filled it with aspen shavings and put it where Poppy had been toileting the most. IT WORKED!
We now have two litter trays. One litter tray under the hay hopper. It is full of hay, and gets a few dry poops deposited in it. One litter tray full of aspen shavings, both rabbits use this as their main toilet. And the bedding is nice and clean!
The outdoor hutch is fortunately not much of a problem. They’ve both got the hang of using an area in the outdoor section. They do have this weird habit of pulling their blankets out of the sleeping boxes and onto the grass. *shrug*
So, surprise rabbit ownership is going OK. Mister Bun-bun is crazy, zoomy and hyperactive. He has calmed down somewhat since meeting Poppy, he lets us pick him up far more readily. He occasionally decides he is enjoying a hug, but mostly he just enjoys running about. Poppy is sweet, cuddly, clumsy, and has an amusing lack of awareness of what’s going on—put some food down and Mr. B-b is there in a flash…Poppy takes some time to figure out what’s going on. She has decided that she’s top rabbit, however, after being very shy and submissive at first.
I’m starting to feel that cats and dogs are the only animals that are suitable to be sold as pets. I used to keep rats, and I’m discounting them for short lifespans and health problems—it’s an emotional rollercoaster. Prey-animals are more skittish and not as cuddly as most people want from a pet. It makes me sad to see baby rabbits all alone in little cages at the pet shops. Really the most important thing to say on the subject is Adopt Don’t Shop. There were as many rabbits at the SPCA as there were cats or dogs. Rabbits are not a popular pet here, so that says a lot about the percentage of rabbits that get abandoned or mistreated. Don’t reward breeders and stores for supplying baby rabbits to jerks. Instead, give a better home to a mistreated or abandoned bunny.